This is the first in an occasional series born out of me offering up the chance to get me to write a blog on any subject in exchange for a KO-FI donation (as a result of me coming very close to losing a big chunk of money I’d pumped into LFCC when the trains became a disaster. Though luckily in the end I did get there in time for about half what I’d paid for, and met Bernard Cribbins). Keep an eye on my TWITTER and I may open this up again if it goes well.
The first person to pick a subject was someone I’ve talked about in Transformation the last couple of weeks, comic colourist Kris Carter. Who asked me to talk about the Goldeneye game for the N64.
Now, cards on the table. When it comes to computers, I’m no Dominic Diamond. I’m barely a Dexter Fletcher. So sort of digging up the corpse of Sir Patrick Moore for advice, this is not going to be an in-depth hardcore analysis of the game, more a personal reminiscence of that heady Summer in 1997.
The amazing thing is, we actually had an N64. Considering we’d generally had older, hand me down consoles (first the Master System, then the Mega Drive. You can’t beat Alex the Kid), the real game playing was done at my Grandad’s, where over the years he had everything from a Commodore 64 to a Mega CD. And as we would only visit once a week, it’s fair to say we were not massive computer players.
But for some reason I can’t remember now, my brother, sister and I ended up with the soon to be soundly trounced by the Playstation Nintendo system. The three particular games that I remember us having and playing end to end in the dinning room over a couple of years were Mario 64, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (one for Nick Roche there) and... Goldeneye.
Which has a strange place in the history of not just Bond games (of which there had been several before. Timothy Dalton’s last “Current” appearance as Bond was on the cover of one. Something that would also happen to Pierce Brosnan, though by 2003 technology had advanced to him actually playing Bond in the game), but licensed movie tie-in titles in general. In that most are quickly thrown together shit that are regarded as an embarrassment.
Goldeneye on the other hand is seen as iconic, one of the greatest computer games of all times and an influential game changer. In terms of its medium, it is better regarded and more important than the film it’s based on.
And Goldeneye is an incredibly well regarded and important film.
The difference between this and every other movie game seems to have been the time taken over it. For a cash-in to come out two years later, just as the next in the series was about to be released, is pretty unusual. Coupled with it being the first FPS to really take advantage of the new 64 bit advances of the then state of the art console and the game was lucky enough to land at a major evolutionary moment in consoles.
Reading up on it, it also seems that most of the people involved were new to game design and had no idea what they were doing, meaning they kept accidentally coming up with innovations due to not knowing what the rules were.
But this was my first chance to see the entire series (as did everyone in my Sixth Form, it was often the talking point on a Monday morning), including the rarely repeated at that point Dr. No and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. And as the Brosnan renascence elevated the profile of Bond to levels not seen since Roger Moore rode a hover gondola, there were video releases with matching spines (soon replaced by DVDs with matching spines. Then Ultimate DVDs. Then Blu Rays...) and books covering every aspect of the history of the character. By the time The World Is Not Enough came out two years later, my fandom was perfectly rounded.
And during this time, we played Goldeneye to death.
Now, the one player mode is a perfectly good expansion of the film, with you getting to be someone who looks vaguely like the actor Pierce Brosnan going around the sets from the film, shooting Russian goons and interacting with people who looked reasonably like other famous actors.
But lets face it, the real fun was the multiplayer mode. Where you could pick characters not just from Goldeneye (and getting to run around as Robbie Coltrane shooting people was worth the price alone), but characters from the entire history of the franchise. And you bet your ass I was always Baron Samedi. Who has abandoned his near nudity from the film for what looks suspiciously like a Gobots Tux cosplay.
And the result was hours of fun. Running around the Moonraker temple. Finding the Golden Gun and gleefully taking advantage of its God mode powers. Even occasionally playing the single player mode.
Its at this point I really wish I could go into a level by level analysis in the sort of depth I could with the film (did you know it was first of a couple of Bond films where the villain was written for Anthony Hopkins? Which is why Sean Bean clearly isn’t old enough for Alec’s backstory), but that really is my overriding memory of the game. That it was fun.
It was also really the last computer game I ever played in any depth. Unless you count Snake. Thanks to its multiplayer giving it more of an afterlife than Mario or Dash Rendar. All of which added to the sense of it having been a very special time.
Indeed, I was so into the game, and so good at it by the end, you might even say that I was INVINCIBLE.